#Giro2020 Stage 2: Alcamo to Agrigento and Ceusa Wines from the Melia Brothers

Nero d’Avola grapes at Ceusa (photo: http://www.montcalmwines.com)

How did you enjoy Stage 1? While not as exciting as the time trial in the Tour de France a few weeks back, the opening race of Giro2020 didn’t disappoint. Starting at the top of Monreale and dropping precipitously to sea level within a few kilometers, the course challenged everyone, from time trial specialists to ambitious GC hopefuls looking to gain a few seconds on their rivals.

Narrow, bumpy roads collided with strong winds off the sea, making for perilous conditions around the tight turns. Even the old pros in the peloton had to hit the brakes as they gingerly navigated the hairpin turns. And of course, there were crashes – right out of the gate!

Highlights from Stage 1

Most riders remounted their bikes and finished the race no worse for wear. All except Miguel-Angel Lopez, that is: he lost control of his bike after hitting a bump, and crashed hard into the barriers. He was transported to hospital and examined, where doctors found no fractures (good news) but treated a deep gash that may preclude his rejoining the race on Sunday.

In other news, recently crowned world champion of the time trial, Filippo Ganna of Team Ineos, ruled the roads in his rainbow stripes, beating the field by a whopping 22 seconds. As dominant as he was in the worlds last weekend, he was every bit as strong today. With two more time trial stages in this year’s Giro, look for Ganna to rack up more wins.

Filippo Ganna crosses the finish line in stage 2 (photo: esciclismo.com)

Regarding the GC contenders, Geraint Thomas of Ineos had the strongest showing, just  23 seconds behind Ganna; Simon Yates finished 26 seconds behind Thomas. All of the other GC guys were significantly slower, with Zakarin, Nibali, and Fuglsang almost two minutes behind Thomas. That’s a lot of time to recoup in the mountains, although there will be opportunities for the brave and willing.

What to Expect in Stage 2

Another day along the wind-swept coast of Sicily, on a long, hilly course. Measuring 149 kms from Alcamo to Agrigento, this might be a good day for a break-away to succeed (heads-up, Thomas De Gendt.) It’s also well-suited to someone like Peter Sagan, who can handle the hills and has a little speed in his legs. Sagan is also supremely motivated to avenge his green jersey loss in the Tour de France.

Preview of Stage 2

By the end of the day, all of the jerseys currently held by Ganna will drape different shoulders. We might just get our first glimpse of the real contenders for the maglia rosa – a brief preview of what lies ahead in the next three weeks.

The Melia Brothers of Azienda Agricola Ceusa

The restored baglio at Ceusa (photo: www.montcalmwines.com)

Brothers Antonio, Vincenzo, and Giuseppe Melia joined forces with their brother-in-law Francesco Vallone to make wine on the grounds of an old baglio (ancient walled estate where wine was made.) In an effort to maintain balance between local traditions and modern technology, they respected the original structure of the building while adding state-of-the-art equipment to the cellar.

The Melia brothers and Francesco Vallone: the team behind Ceusa (photo: http://www.montcalmwines.com)

Their first harvest was in 1995, from a 50-hectare plot of vines not far from the famous Temple of Segestia, built in the 5th century BC. Vincenzo, who had worked with famed enologist Giacomo Tachis in Marsala, heads up viticulture for the family, while Giuseppe is in charge of winemaking.

Temple of Segestia near Ceusa (photo: http://www.montcalmwines.com)

Ceusa, the flagship wine, takes its name from the Sicilian word for mulberry, and is a blend of local favorite Nero d’Avola, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. The wine spends 12 months in French oak and another 12 months in bottle before release. It is labeled as Ceusa Sicilia IGP.

The Scurati line of varietal wines are made with indigenous grapes, notably Nero d’Avola and Grillo. They are labeled as Terre Siciliane IGP.

Enjoy the race; I’ll be back tomorrow with some food for thought on Stage 3.

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